Stop & Search and Use of Force

  • The Stop & Search and Use of Force laws are designed to help the police detect crime and make our communities safe.
  • Any stop and search and use of force should be fair, lawful and justified and carried out in a respectful and professional manner.

More information on Stop and Search and Use of Force can be found here.

External Scrutiny of Stop & Search and Use of Force

  • External scrutiny is an important way to ensure that the police operate in a lawful and fair manner, it provides transparency and opens up police practices to communities for closer examination, with a view to communities providing constructive oversight and challenge. This is then used to improve service delivery.

What we do in Northumbria – Police Powers Advisory Panel

  • In July 2021, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) established our Police Powers Advisory Panel.
  • Panel members are representatives of diverse community groups and services from across the region. They act as critical friends by analysing anonymised stop and search and use of force records and view body worn video to check that correct procedures have been followed.
  • All panel members have undergone a robust vetting process and they commit to maintain confidentiality. (Terms of Reference)
  • The work of the panel feeds into Northumbria Police’s Confidence and Standard’s Board which is committed to delivering the highest professional standards of service to the public.

Panel Membership comprises of representatives of the OPCC, Northumbria Police and the following community organisations in Northumberland and Tyne & Wear:

Investing in People & Culture African Community Advice North East Compact in Race in Equality in South Tyneside Ethiopian Society
Cameroon Society New Beginnings North Rethink Mental Illness

Police Powers Advisory Panel – Outcomes so far

Over the last 12 months the key outcomes from the panel are:

Positive outcomes

  • Through the contribution and feedback of panel members, the force has improved how it records stop and search and use of force, ensuring it provides a greater understanding in the use of police powers.
  • The panel also highlighted good practice regarding the speed with which the force reviews stop and search and use of force, addresses areas for improvement and is proactive in share that learning through officer safety training.
  • Over the course of last 12 months, the panel have observed a clear improvement in comparison to previous video footages of stop and search and use of force, commenting that there has been less critique required and officers demonstrating the development and benefits of the training they are receiving.


  • In relation to collecting demographic data on stop and search and use of force, the panel identified that the ‘other’ category asking the subject to specify their background wasn’t meaningful or beneficial. As a result, the force if looking at how to better capture tis information as well as researching what other forces are doing with data collection.
  • Panel members have raised issues about the lack of effective communication by police officers with the subject and the need to provide reassurance, they also observed that the process can sometimes be long and drawn out after the search when no weapons have been found. Northumbria Police recognise that officers need to ‘have a plain English conversation’ with the subject so have re-visited their provision of training to pay particular attention to improving the officer’s communication skills.
  • The panel have emphasised that Officers’ understanding of different cultures is vital to ensure their engagement with diverse communities instils a sense of confidence in the public. In order to aid effective community engagement, officers receive a wide range of briefings to assist them in understanding our communities. In recognising the increased diversity of our communities, panel members are also assisting the police with the briefings.

Further details of what is discussed in the meetings, can be found via the below meeting reports:

You can also find more information on how the force uses stop and search here.